Planck, Gottlieb Jacob

Planck, Gottlieb Jacob a noted Protestant divine, was born at Nürtingen, in the kingdom of Würtemberg, Nov. 15, 1751. He was educated at the university in Tübingen, and in 1784 was made ordinary professor of theology in the University of Göttingen. In this capacity he exerted a remarkable influence throughout Germany, as he wielded a powerful pen, and wrote many essays upon the history of the Church and its doctrines. He is a leading representative of "pragmatic" historiography. His principal work is his Geschichte des protestaeitischen Systems in seinem Ursprung, seiner Verandersprung, it. seiner Fortbildung (Leips. 1781-1800, 6 vols. 8vo), which was continued in a work published after a long interval under the title of Geschichte des protestantischen Lehrbegrifes von der Concordiem formel bis zur Mitte des 18ten Jahrhunderts (Gött. 1831). Another great work of his is Gesch. der christl. — kirchl. Gesellschaftsverfassung (Hann. 1803-9, 5 vols. 8vo). Planck, though widely read and followed, does not deserve the great renown he has secured. He exhibits too much indifference to doctrine to be trusted implicitly in his judgments, and yet no one can withhold from him the tribute for application. But, like a too obtrusive cicerone, Planck, in these works, requires great judgment in the reader. He everywhere discovers purpose, pre-concerted design, ambition, hatred, and other passions, as having been the motive forces in the process of doctrinal history. Thus the progressive and independent development of dogma is resolved into psychological dispositions and tendencies, while, at the same time, the author's own doctrinal indifference is unconsciously transferred to the agents of the dogma forming process, by the axiomatic assumption that doctrine alone would have been incapable of exciting so much interest or contention. In his eves doctrine is an antiquated matter, which is properly destined to oblivion. In this method, the view being restricted to efficient causes, and the inherent activity of final causes lost sight of, even the efficient causes are not comprehended in their entirety. Planck died in 1833. "With Planck the subjective, pragmatic method reaches its height. History is only the dreary theatre of human interests and passions. It is therefore truly amazing that, with his indifference to Church doctrine, he could bestow so much toilsome study and learned industry on such 'perfectly indifferent antiquations' as the theological contentions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Of course his work, with all its great and enduring merits, and the relative truth and necessity of its position, could not fail to have a bad effect, in completely sundering the doctrinal consciousness of its age from the basis of the older Church orthodoxy, and in justifying this rupture as a pretended advance. In his other large work, The History of Church Government, Planck likewise starts from that rationalistic conception of the Church, which dates from Locke, viz., that this divine establishment was originally a mere voluntary association, which formed its laws and institutions in accordance with the changing wants of the times, and under the influence of fortuitous, external circumstances; and that, in this way, it gradually assumed an aspect altogether different from what its founder and first members intended or foresaw. In this way he accounts for the gigantic hierarchy of the Middle Ages, which he looks upon in a simply political light, with the calmness of a learned but indifferent spectator; while the older Protestant orthodoxy had held it in pious abhorrence, as the broken bulwark of the veritable Antichrist" (Schaff, Hist. of the Apostolic Church, p. 73). A complete list of all his writings is given in Pütter, Gesch. der Universitit Göttingen, 2, 121; 3, 283 sq.; 4:270. See Lücke, Gottlieb Jacob Plaunck, ein biographischer Versuch (Gött. 1838, 8vo); Illgen, Zeitschr. für histor. Theol. 1843, 4:75- 88; Rheinwald, Repert. of theol. Literatur, 1839, 25:105 sq.; Hallesche allgem. Zeit. 1837, 3, 281 sq.; Dorner, Hist. of Protestant Theology, 2, 283; Kahnis, Hist, of German Protestantism, p. 176; Hurst's Hagenbach,

Church [list. of the 18th and 19th Centuries; Alzog, Kirchengesch. 2, 286, 731. (J.H.W.)

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